Voiceover Artist and Freelance Mum founder, Faye Dicker, on how the school run can be good for your business.
The chances are if you’re a ‘freelance parent’, the school run will fall to you. I know it does in my house. And although my husband is good at stepping in, as a ‘freelance mum’, the lion’s share falls to me.
Not that I begrudge it, I hasten to add – I want to make sure my girls are dropped off safe and sound. Once we have managed the almighty task, of actually leaving the house, I enjoy cycling them in.
Yet the reality is, when you’re doing the school run twice a day – it can bite a chunk into your day. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a window of time available from 9.15am – 3pm, to crack on with some work. More likely, it’s smaller.
And that can be hard. Especially when you’re trying to shoehorn work into every available working minute and maximize your productivity. It’s easy to feel resentful of the school bell ringing, meaning ‘pencils down’ for your business.
But doing the school run, can be good for your business – if you make it work for you.
Growing your network
We hear the term ‘networking’ all the time, I often think it gets overused and as a consequence forgotten it’s about your ‘network’ of people. It’s not just about ‘networking a room’. It’s unlikely (and probably not very appropriate) you’re going to start handing out your business cards, in the school playground.
But it doesn’t take much to get chatting to the mum you’re standing next to, find out a bit more about them and so on. Without even thinking about it, you’re naturally making connections, finding out a little about them and no doubt, you’ll start asking about you. With very little effort, you’re making connections and growing your network.
Wearing your brand
This one is a doddle. In fact, I see it more frequently in the playground all the time and think it looks ace – especially when little ones are proudly wearing a hoody with their parents business name on. I love how it’s very much a ‘family affair’ when it comes to branded hoodies at GemSec!
Even if your business doesn’t need a ‘uniform’, it’s very easy these days to have hoody or a T-shirt with your brand name on. The Freelance Mum bright pink T-shirts have become synonymous with Freelance Mum. On the days where I pick up the girls straight after Freelance Mum, wearing the bright pink FM top, I often get stopped and asked ‘are you the person who runs Freelance Mum’? Even if they don’t stop and ask, it’s your brand name they’re going to see and puts your business on their radar.
In fact, I even took it one step further and had the Freelance Mum logo put on my cargo bike, which resulted in gaining a new member! Don’t be shy. It’s your brand, tell the world, be proud.
Treat it as an opportunity to learn
Most freelance mums are time poor and juggling an ever-increasing to-do list. It can be hard, when at best we are just working in our business and not working on our business, to carve out time to actually stop and learn. Using the school run can be a great window of opportunity to download some podcasts, or audio books and take that time to stop and listen. I know it’s the approach Lucie Gray of Paper Aeroplane Creative has taken, she decided that if she was going to walk to school and back every day, that was a great opportunity to take the time to actually listen to some podcasts. Make your ‘commute’ work for you!
Sticking with the theme of maximizing your time, fitness is often something that can easily fall away. Yet we all know the physical AND mental benefits from exercising. You only have to speak to Lesely Waldron at Wild Country Woman, to hear about the benefits of exercising outdoors. I love the way my head always seems to work things out, after I’ve come back from a run.
The school run might not be quite the same as an hour of yoga, but it is getting you (and your kids) outdoors. And if you make a point of putting your trainers on, you can extend your school run, to an actual run, after you’ve dropped them off. You and your business will benefit, from that extra bit of fresh air and fitness.
Take a break
Whether you like it or not, the school run forces you to take a break. Although it can be frustrating having to stop, when you’re mid flow, it means you take a step back and take a break from things. Otherwise, time can run away with you and you don’t remember to stop! It’s far better to take a break from your work and come back fresh, than to keep going and grind to a halt.
I often look up at the clock and can’t believe how fast the day is going by. There are days, that despite the best intentions, you can feel as though nothing has been done. On those days, when there are more jobs than time, I give myself a ‘power hour’ between 2pm and 3pm, when I leave the house. One final hour to power through some jobs and work without stopping. It’s funny how a deadline, can actually make things happen!
It might not have been the structure you’d have chosen for yourself, but there’s nothing like the school run to enforce a bit of structure. I love the days when I step in, after drop off, make myself a hot drink and sit down to catch up with social media. It’s a window of time that’s for me and my business and gives real pleasure. With structure, it gives us something to work with, without it can be harder to be disciplined and create rules/ways of working.
The school run can be an interruption and it’s easy to think of it as a pain, but part of the joy of being a freelancer is actually being able to pick up your kids from school. The trick is, making the school run work for your business.
At Freelance Mum, we know how tricky it can be, juggling children around business – which is why we created child-friendly networking for mums in business. Why not try it for FREE and find out for yourself?